Anthony Fauci Says Trump Got Hydroxychloroquine Idea From Right-Wing TV Host

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that Donald Trump got the notion to push hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment from none other than Fox News host Laura Ingraham. (Watch the video below.)

Fauci, a White House coronavirus task force member during the pandemic, said the former president fixated on so-called miracle cures with “no basis in science.”

Trump yelled at Fauci for openly dismissing the supposed effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that was promoted by conservatives as a COVID treatment without any real evidence.

“I’m telling the American public the facts,” Fauci said he told Trump. “Hydroxychloroquine doesn’t work.”

Fauci, who describes his complicated relationship with Trump in his new book “On Call,” told MSNBC’s Ari Melber what he speculated was the reason for Trump’s insistence on the drug’s ability to quell the outbreak.

“I believe he wanted so badly for this to go away the way influenza goes away, and when he saw it was not going away, then he was hoping for some magical solution, and he even used those words, ‘It’s going to go away like magic,’” Fauci said. “And then when that didn’t work, then we had to have these miracle cures like hydroxychloroquine, which he got from Laura Ingraham on Fox News.”

Claims about the drug’s purported usefulness against the coronavirus were bandied about through right-wing channels before Ingraham visited the White House in April 2020 to sell Trump on the drug.

Ingraham, who had already been touting hydroxychloroquine on her show along with other Fox personalities, brought cardiologist Dr. Ramin Oskoui, who was included in a New York Times opinion piece about “dangerous doctors in a pandemic,” and Stephen Smith, an infectious disease specialist, to the meeting, The Wall Street Journal reported. Smith said in April 2020 that he thought the drug combined with an antibiotic was “the beginning of the end of the pandemic.”

Trump was sold. In mid-May 2020, he announced that he had been taking the drug for weeks. “I’ve heard a lot of good stories,” he said.

But a study published in June 2023 by the National Institutes of Health highlighted the futility of the medicine as a pre-exposure treatment for COVID-19. It noted no significant difference between a placebo and the actual drug in preventing infection.

A study released in January 2024 determined that the drug Trump championed as a silver bullet actually increased the mortality rate by 11% among those who took it to treat COVID-19. It was linked to nearly 17,000 deaths in six countries during the pandemic’s first wave.